By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the Concessioning of 20 out of its 33 Silos to private sector operators at the cost of N6 billion.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, revealed this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
He said the Silos built at different parts of the country were being concessioned for 10 years.
“Today, we presented a memo to Council, seeking approval to concession the Silos which have been built in different parts of the country over the past 10 years.
“A total of 33 Silos exist with a capacity of 1,360,000 metric tons of grains and they are spread almost evenly through the geo-political zones of the country.
“In 2014 government decided to privatise or concession some of these Silos so that the private sector can help, use them for a fee to the Federal Government.
“The process was carried out by World Bank, the concession committee of the government, NGOs, the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“It has taken this long to arrive at this because the processes are very slow, we wanted absolute accountability,’’ he said.
According to him, six of the 33 Silos will be retained by the Federal Government.
“We informed them that the fact that we are concessioning some of the silos does not mean we are reneging on our responsibility to guarantee food security.
“We are keeping six of the silos which is according to international standard, we keep five per cent of all the grains we harvest every year, the rest will go to private sector groups.
“Those who bided and have shown capacity have been the ones allocated the Silos, those who are unable to manage them will have the concession revoked.
“Government will earn N6 billion in the 10-year period of the first instance.
“The Federal Government remains the owner of the silos and at the end of 10 years it can either renew, revoke or takeover the Silos and operate them ourselves.
“We have requests for grains from different parts of the world, soya beans, sesame, sorghum and millet. We also have massive rice production going on and the likes of Dangote and Coscharis going into rice production now need these silos.
“So concessioning it to them means they will organise local groups to produce grains for them to dry properly and store and market when the need arises or even export.’’
The minister expressed the hope that the private sector operators had the capacity to operate and maintain the silos successfully.
Also speaking on the reported flood disaster in some parts of the country, the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, stated that Federal Government had put in place measures to address the situations.
According to him, the water level has risen to 11.19 , but has not reached the 12.4 level that led to flooding in 2012.
“The water level has not reached the point as it was in 2012, and we are happy that the water level in Cameroon has not reached the level that will make them open their dam.’’
Adamu, however, appealed to the communities within the flood plains to relocate from those areas.
Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, also responded to questions on the resignation of Kemi Adeosun as minister of finance and the subsequent appointment of Minister of State Zainab Ahmed to officially oversee the affairs of the ministry.
According to him, with her new appointment as supervising minister of finance, Ahmed has officially “relinquished her position as Minister of State, Budget and National Planning.”
Adesina said the clarification had become necessary following the confusion over her current status.
He said: “It is a matter of nomenclature, yes but she is overseeing the ministry. What you call her is a matter of nomenclature but if she is overseeing the ministry, then she is.
“But note that she is no longer minister of state budget and national planning for now until anything contrary happens. But for now, she is in charge of the ministry of finance.’’(NAN)